Home > International, US Election Tour 2012 > Indecision And Division Leaves Ohio Up For Grabs

Indecision And Division Leaves Ohio Up For Grabs

The state of Ohio is considered the biggest swing state in the 2012 US Presidential election. With 18 electoral votes up for grabs, both campaigns have been tirelessly wooing voters in the state for the past month.

Recent polls show that as of Thursday (November 1) Barack Obama has a slender lead of 2 percentage points. However, early voting has the President ahead with a sizable lead of 60% to 34%. Despite this clear lead, early voting in the state of Ohio has been much lower than expected, meaning that election day voters will have the final say.

Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, knows that if he is to win the election it is essential that he wins Ohio. Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, will have all but ensured victory if he is able to win the electoral votes on offer.

While the candidates, and their campaign teams, have been hosting rallies and meeting with the voters, it appears that neither Obama nor Romney are any closer to securing the support of Ohio.

In Toledo, Ohio all of the different voter groups have numerous demands from the candidates.

Students at the University of Toledo explained that their biggest concern is the lack of jobs awaiting them upon graduation. Daniel Stevens, a third year engineering student, said that he was concerned that he would not be able to find a job to repay all of his loans. “Going to university in America is very expensive, I have been forced to take a few loans to pay off my student bills. If I am able to get a job after graduating I will be able to repay these loans. But in recent years the economy has been very poor and getting a job is not assured”, he said.

Stevens added that due to the economy being in a bad shape the cost of repaying the student loans have increased. “Both campaigns have promised to improve the economy but neither have really been able to convince on how they will do this. President Obama has had four years to do so, he now says that was not enough time. If we elect him again he will only have another four years, what guarantee is there that he can do what he needs to. Mitt Romney on the other hand has not really showed any proper plan to rebuild the economy. As far as I am concerned, this election is to choose a candidate who is less likely to worsen the situation”, he explained.

Jennifer Burton, a second year Arts major, agreed with Stevens that the cost of education was too high and needed to be addressed by the next president. “The economy was in bad shape when President Obama came in to office, in the four years he has done a lot to set it right. It is too much to expect him to have everything perfect in only four years, I will definitely be voting for him again he is on the right track”, she said.

Burton added that she was sure Obama was the proper choice as she felt Romney would only assist the wealthy class of America. “President Obama has promised to increase taxes on the wealthy, that has to be done if they want to improve the economy. Romney will only protect the wealthy because h knows they can get him elected. Does it not the way an economy should be handled”, the student explained.

Jordan Parker, an unemployed African-American high school graduate, believes that the current state of the economy has put further education out of the reach of lower income families. “When President Obama was elected we all thought he understand the issues facing us poorer people. In the four years that he has been president there has been no change to the economy. I cannot afford the college fees, and that means my education stopped after high school”, he said.

Parker said that he had wanted to become an electrician after leaving high school, but because of the expensive college fees and high repayment schemes for loans he was forced to abandon those plans. He explained that as a high school graduate job opportunities were limited, forcing him to look for part-time work in convenience stores.

“I was a supporter of President Obama when he started, but his term has made little difference to my life. I know that Mitt Romney will not make any difference to my life, I do not see myself going out and voting this time”, Parker explained.

While the younger generation appear to be divided and unconvinced on who they should vote for, the retired people of Ohio have already picked their candidate for President. Bill Mathews, a retired glass factory supervisor, and his wife Donna Mathews expressed their support for Romney in the upcoming election. “President Obama has done nothing but weaken an already fragile economy with his policies. As Americans we have always prided ourselves on welcoming immigrants, but a strong President needs to know when to say enough. I have lived in Toledo all my life and I have seen a change in the people who live here. In the past 30 years there has been an increase in the number of Latin Americans and Arabs living here, and unfortunately that means fewer jobs”, he said.

The Mathews explained that they were not racist, but simply believed that there should be greater controls on the number of immigrants living in the area. Donna Mathews said “Bill was forced to retire early as they were laying off people at the factory, one of the reasons was because they could get cheaper labour from the immigrants who have moved here.”

Bill Mathews said that he supported Mitt Romney as they believed he understood the need to protect American citizens from outside influences both economically and physically. “Governor Romney has continually expressed his distrust towards the Chinese, unfortunately President Obama has allowed companies to outsource work to the other countries taking away money from families back here in the States. The Republicans are dedicated to protecting us, and for that they have our vote”, he said.

Sam Redmond, a former employee at the Chrysler factory, threw his whole hearted support behind Romney. “I am 69 and am suffering from arthritis, my medication is expensive and the current insurance packages do not cover it. Last month Senator Paul Ryan met with a lot of us and promised that the Republicans would make health care more affordable for the lower income families. President Obama has had four years to do so and still has not been able to. At this stage in my life health care is my main concern, for that reason alone I will be supporting Governor Romney”, he said.

Redmond added that he did not have anything against Obama and believed if there were not as many issues facing him as there are, he would have been a good President. He explained that he felt Romney would a stronger leader and someone who would be able to make smarter decisions under pressure.

While the retired people of Ohio seem to be leaning towards Romney the minorities are clearly backing Obama in the election.

Mohammed Al Fayar, a local shop owner in downtown Toledo, said that he wholeheartedly supported Obama both on his domestic and foreign policies. “The economy was in a bad state when President Obama took over, since then it is improving, another four years and we will be in a much better state. The Republicans do not know how to protect small businesses, furthermore they do not care about us migrants,” he said.

Al Fayar expressed his belief that Obama’s foreign policy showed an understanding towards migrants. “We must not forget it was the Republicans under George W. Bush that instilled an anti-Islam feeling amongst Americans. President Obama may continue the war in Afghanistan but he is also sympathetic to issues facing the Muslim world, his treatment of Palestine is example of this. This is a President who will be supportive of all groups”, he said.

Martha Fernandez, a waitress at a restaurant, said that it was because of the Obama administration that she was able to finally get her green card and remain in America. “I spent five years in and out of America trying to get my green card during the Bush administration, within 8 months of President Obama taking office I was approved for my green card. I was not able to vote last time, but I will certainly be voting on this occasion for President Obama”, she explained.

Fernandez who is a mother, is hopeful that she can bring her daughter over from Mexico to live with her. “I have had to show that I can support both myself and my daughter in order for her to get a green card also, 5 years ago that would not have been possible. Jobs for minorities were scarce back then, now under President Obama jobs are more easily available and more importantly people are able to migrate to this country more easily”, the waitress said.

With less than two days remaining for the election, the indecision that remains in Ohio may prove to be influential in the final outcome of the election. While both parties can claim to have support amongst key groups in the state, neither can boast of having a substantial lead.

It appears that this deadlock will only be decided on election day.

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